Through the perilous world of early Renaissance espionage strides the intrepid figure of Ancient Pistol, secret agent. Massively confident, never at a loss for an insult or anachronistic quotation from the Bard, Shakespeare’s vainglorious soldier has been entrusted by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, with a cloak-and-dagger mission of the utmost delicacy, involving the fate of the mightiest in the land.
Pistol would not be everyone’s choice for such a task, being a loudmouthed, cowardly, drunken fathead. His efficiency is further impaired not only by the necessity to avoid his creditors, their lawyers, and the Army he has defrauded, but a tempestuous relationship with Doll Tearsheet – not to mention sundry other ladies – and the inept assistance of Sir John Falstaff.
Yet whether brawling in the Boar’s Head, discovered in flagrante by a murderous husband, or enduring the indignity of the stocks or the dunghill, Pistol is indestructible. Before the colossal ineptitude of his blundering, the Machiavellian schemes of the mighty crumble and fall. Battered, humiliated, disgraced but undefeated, Pistol triumphs in the end.